Why Balance Matters as You Level Up in Life (by Jessica Hegg at ViveHealth)

We all know that staying active and keeping your body moving is crucial to aging well, but there’s an important piece of the puzzle that many people forget. Balance training for seniors is just as important to older adults as muscle strength and cardiovascular health, and can have a drastic impact on your levels of mobility. Learn more about the importance of balance below, what benefits boosted balance can offer, and a few ways to improve yours.

Why is Balance Such an Issue for Seniors?

A fall is never good news, though seniors have good reason to take extra care. With more brittle bones, joints, and muscles, a single accident can have lasting consequences. Impact injuries tend to be worse with seniors, and also take longer to heal.

Not only that, but seniors are more likely to experience falls in the first place. Medications, issues with sight and vision, dulled proprioception, and mobility challenges all add up to increased fall risk. Luckily, focusing on improving balance can help reduce this risk and the consequences that come with a fall.

Looking for a way to get started on your balance training today? Give our wobble board a try.

The Benefits of Balance

Improved balance comes with a wide range of benefits, and some are less obvious than others. Learn more below.

Check out these balance trainers designed to challenge and improve your balance

  • Reduce Fall Risk

    Falls are a serious risk for seniors, but you might not know exactly how serious. More than one out of every four seniors have a fall each year. Some of these result in serious injury, hip fractures being among the most common. While most cases don’t result in hospitalization, a single fall will increase the likelihood of falling in the future, increasing lifelong risk.

    Improving balance is one of the best ways of reducing the risk of falls, and lowering the severity of falls you do experience.  Improved balance lets you react more quickly when falling, bracing yourself against the impact and potentially lowering the damage done to your body.

    Don’t forget to set yourself up for success, find ways to make your home a safe oasis, and reduce the chance of falls.

    Browse helpful home safety products here

  • Perfect Your Posture

    It’s commonly believed that people with desk jobs are the only ones who suffer from poor posture, though the reality is that it’s a concern for everyone. Learn more about how to improve posture here. Physical labor, driving, and even sleeping can impact your posture, over the years. Having good posture means forming healthy habits when sitting and standing, and balance is a key part of this.

    Check to see if you have a proper sitting posture

    Balance exercises help strengthen our core, which supports our spinal column, and have a positive impact on our posture. In fact, by practicing static and dynamic balance exercises, you can strengthen your core enough to reverse the effects of negative posture.

    A posture corrector is another great way to keep your bones and muscles aligned. See our posture corrector here.

  • Bounce Back Better

    Core muscles aren’t always the first ones we think of when getting in our regular workout, though they make a big difference when recovering from an injury. Training your proprioception and balance during recovery will help build a strong foundation, letting injuries of all kinds heal faster and stronger. Plus, they’ll help the injured area resist injury in the future.

  • Strengthen Your Joints

    Recovering from a fall is great, but what if you could prevent it from happening in the first place? The great thing about balance training is that it targets your core muscles, legs, and joints, which adds stability to your posture when walking or standing. While nothing can keep you 100% safe from falls, the improved balance might mean the difference between a nasty spill and a minor accident. 

    Keep in mind that the effects of balance training aren’t always obvious at first glance. Unlike weight lifting or a regular cardio routine, it won’t have a drastic effect on your appearance. However, improved balance can serve as a foundation for other forms of exercise, letting you stay fit without the risk. If you want to learn more, check out these 44 balance exercises for seniors.

Types of Balance Exercise

Now that you know all about the benefits improved balance can add to your life; it’s time to decide how to build your balance. There are plenty of options, and as always, the right choice is the one that fits best into your life.

  • Static Balance Exercises

    Static balance exercises can be a great choice for seniors who have limited mobility, or who are at risk of injury. The name comes from the fact that they don’t require any movement at all, keeping your body in a fixed position as you train your balance. While it might sound easy, you’ll be surprised by the challenge once you get started!

    The most basic static balance exercise is standing on one foot. Try it for ten seconds, then thirty, then a full minute. If you want a real challenge, you can even try it with your eyes closed.

    This trains your proprioception, giving your body a better sense of where it sits in space. and it strengthens the muscles in your legs, joints, and core, giving you a more stable stance. Finally, it improves your reaction time when you catch your fall with your other foot.

    To jumpstart your balance training,  try the above exercise on our foam balance pad.

  • Dynamic Balance Exercises

    Dynamic balance exercises are more similar to other exercises like running and weightlifting. Here, you move your body to work the muscles in your legs, hips, and joints, to gradually improve your balance. For best results, keep in mind that good balance requires many different muscles all working together. So it makes sense that you’ll need to try a broad range of exercises for a comprehensive workout.

    Focus on exercises that target your calves, quads, hamstrings, and abdominals. There’s a great variety of different exercises you can try, so experiment and see which works best for you. If you’re looking for a few to get started, try these:

    1. Step-ups
    2. Marching
    3. Side-steps

    If you’re looking for a way to get your muscles moving, but can’t stand for long periods, a pedal exerciser can let you work your leg muscles while sitting down.

  • Yoga

    Yoga is a popular form of low-impact exercise that combines static and dynamic exercises for a comprehensive workout. It’s the perfect option for balance training, while also improving strength and flexibility. Plus, it’s something you can try in a class in your local community or the comfort of your own home.

    Don’t forget to tailor your yoga workout to your personal fitness goals. Get started on your yoga journey with our complete guide to yoga for seniors.

Putting Balance at the Core of Your Fitness Plan

It’s important to remember that your regular exercise routine should be varied enough to support your overall fitness. Alongside cardio and muscle-building workouts, improving your balance can have a huge impact on your safety, mobility, and independence. Perhaps more than any age group, seniors can fully enjoy the benefits of better balance.